Posts Tagged ‘bruce coville’

On Saturday our local SCBWI chapter had a very special guest speaker, Lin Oliver, co-founder of SCBWI. Lin took time from her very busy schedule to share with our members some writing tips she has gleaned from her 40 plus years of working with the best children’s authors of our time.

In addition to co-founding SCBWI, Lin is also a children’s book author and writer-producer of family films, television series and movies for children.  Her New York Times best-selling book series HANK ZIPZER, co-authored by Henry Winkler, has sold over three million copies.

Here is a book trailer for Lin’s newest series with Henry Winkler.

Lin was witty and charming as she described her experience as a writer and shared her “12 Things for Writing for Children.” Here are a few of the tips that Lin shared with us:

From author Bruce Coville: “Follow your wierdness.”

 Use your creativity, kids will love it.

From author Richard Peck: “Be emotional, but not sentimental. Just because it happened to you, doesn’t make it interesting.”

Use the emotions from previous experiences to add richness to your writing, not necessarily the situations.

From author Jane Yolen: “It’s not a children’s book if a child doesn’t solve the story problem.”

If the adult solves the problem, write adult fiction.

From author Sid Fleischman: “In writing, nothing is wasted, but the paper.”

Don’t be afraid to cut. That scene may be used in another story or set up an even better idea.

It was an inspirational afternoon and I was very happy I attended. Now I’m going to go and follow my weirdness.

Happy Writing,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk.

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It’s time to register for the SCBWI Summer Conference. According to the SCBWI website, the conference will feature 3 days of agents, editors, publishers, workshops and networking plus one optional day of intensives, that can help you take your writing and illustration to the next level.  The conference will be held August 5-8th in Los Angeles, so pack your swim suits and sun screen, lap tops and pencils and prepare for a great event.

The speakers for this event include Laurie Halse Anderson, Libba Bray, Bruce Coville, John Green, Norton Juster, Donna Jo Napoli, Mary Pope Osborne, Gary Paulsen, Jerry Pinkney, Jon Scieszka and David Small. The conference will also feature panels of over 20 leading editors, art directors and agents who will be conducting  sessions on craft and present the current and future state of the industry, and yes, electronic publishing.

This year marks a little change in the format. For three days, August 5-7th, the features that you have come to expect; the main sessions, keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and optional manuscript and portfolio critiques will take place. The fourth and final day of the conference, August 8, is an optional intensive day for a limited number of authors and illustrators. This Writer Intensive will feature three-hour, hands-on workshops on various topics, in addition to a round-table critique of your work led by an editor or agent. The Illustrator Intensive will feature up-close craft demonstrations by seven of the world’s leading illustrators.

For more information on the conference or to register visit www.scbwi.org.

Happy Writing

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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The journey of a reader continues! On to the elementary school years. The age of reading.

Of course reading matters at any age, but at this age reading MATTERS. I think schools and parents tend to focus on reading at this stage of life more than any other time. And kids this age have the time and luxury of reading. And, developmentally, reading meets their needs.

I’m going to go general here –  because I believe so strongly in the importance of good, rich, complex, books for this age… Most middle grade readers – including my boy at this age – are:

  • Sponges. They soak up facts, images, ideas, values.
  • Curious. They ask questions. Lots of questions. Often ones that begin with “What if?”
  • Big-hearted and passionate. They LOVE the things they love.
  • Evaluative. They are starting to measure themselves against and within the world.
  • With feet in different worlds. They have past memories to draw on and great hopes for the future.

For my particular boy, there were never enough books. He was a voracious – and speedy – reader. I had such a hard time keeping him in books – not because he was picky, but because he wanted to read absolutely everything. And everywhere. Later, when he first learned to drive he had such a hard time with directions – I think this was because he spent every minute of every car ride immersed in a book instead of looking out the window!

The stories he read entertained him, taught him, inspired him. They gave him “meat”  for his imaginative play. He spent time organizing, categorizing and thinking about his own personal collection of books.

I can’t even begin to list all the books that he loved at this stage. He blew through several series and became aware of favorite authors. He adored Roald Dahl, Bruce Coville, John Bellairs, J.K. Rowling, and finally – with some unexplained reluctance – was won over by Lemony Snicket.

One of the books that I remember filling him up completely – he fell oh-so-deeply in love with the characters and world – was Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. And Skellig by David Almond inspired hours of play and acting out the story with his younger sister. And he absolutely adored Holes by Louis Sachar. These are not simple stories with formulaic plots. Not even a little bit.

And so, I urge anyone who wants to write for these readers to write the very best stories you can. You will be read, adored, appreciated. You will inspire play and dreams and big big thoughts. You will change the world.

Sarah Wones Tomp


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